Everybody has questions, and Bwog has your answers. In this edition of AskBwog, an intrepid explorer reports on a café that you’re probably either very familiar with or have never heard of before. Read of the delights below.
Every time I walk down to Riverside Park for my morning run I see the mysterious signs for Cafe Nana in the Hillel center. I’m filled with the burning, desperate desire for knowledge about this little sign and the wonders it may conceal. Please help me learn so I don’t have to go in there myself and figure it out.
Puzzled in the Park
Never fear—Bwog will bravely venture into this hitherto unexplored building to satisfy your intellectual curiosity.
For some reason, we assumed that Cafe Nana was an Indian joint—maybe we mixed up the lettering and subconsciously read “Naan” the first time? Then, we wondered whether someone’s grandmother had taken residence in the Hillel center and starting cooking, hence the name “Nana.” After realizing that these assumptions were unfounded and a little ridiculous, it was clear that a practical investigation was in order.
AND LO AND BEHOLD: AN EASTERN PARADISE. At the far end of the room, anyway. Behind the usual fake-wood tables and dingy chairs lay three little booths one would expect to find in a cheesy East Village hookah lounge. It’s fantastic.
Clearly Cafe Nana has some new ideas about comfort seating. Warning: the womb-like spaces proved too dark to read effectively.
The food itself is neither Indian nor your grandmother’s meatloaf, but (obviously) Israeli. The falafel sandwiches look promising, although the breakfast menu seems a little suspicious with a $6 bagel. According to the menu hanging above Bwog’s head, you can opt for fish, pasta, salads, a section of the menu called “Little Italy,” or the whole column dedicated to Hummus Of Your Choice. There haven’t been more than two customers in the cafe at a time in the past half hour, so it seems a decently quiet spot to sit—or recline and lounge, as the case may be. And being the only person sitting at the cafe also means getting a free sample of pumpkin soup! Cafe Nana seems like a warm and fuzzy place thus far, with a very extreme range of furniture quality.
Cafe Nana is supposedly the place to be after Shabbat services and dinner at Hillel, and a good place to meet up with friends. Just don’t look too closely beyond the counter into the sparse “kitchen” beyond. It seems a little questionable.